TODAY   |  January 27, 2014

Family-run marijuana shop aims to go national

Medicine Man, a Colorado pot retailer, is trying to expand nationwide. Under the watchful eye of armed guards and security cameras, it calls itself the largest marijuana dispensary in the state. The owners are building what they’re calling the “Costco of weed.”  NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez  reports.

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>>> and we are back at 7:43. at least three dozen stores are now licensed to sell recreational pot in colorado . and at least one in denver is aiming high, hoping to expand nationwide. nbc's gabe gutierrez is there.

>> good morning. if you thought pot retailers in colorado were tiny shops run by stoners, you'd be wrong. we're here at meade sin mdicine man. it's part of a long road to making this a national pot franchise.

>> reporter: in the mile high city . at least one store says it never ran low on recreational pot.

>> it's a sea of green.

>> medicine man calls itself the largest marijuana dispensary in colorado here under the watchful eye of armed guards and security cameras , the owners are building what they're calling the costco of weed.

>> we're trying to make this into an industrial process rather than a stoner process. and i think we're being very successful at that.

>> pete williams , his brother andy, and their sister sally started selling medical marijuana in 2010 . now ten relatives from three generations work here. there's kayla in reception, ryan on quality control, and michelle counts the other kind of green. since recreational cannabis sales became legal in colorado on january 1st , business has been so good, these entrepreneurs are planning a $2.6 million expansion this spring. that will double growing capacity. this is weed in bulk.

>> our margins are very low. so we're able to continue to knock down the prices and grow a lot.

>> reporter: next up, franchises, possibly in washington state when recreational sales fire up there later this year and beyond as other states consider legalization.

>> we already have people wanting to use our technology and our model and we are ready for them.

>> reporter: still, the national debate is raging.

>> it scares us.

>> reporter: testifying before congress recently, a high-ranking drug enforcement agency blasted the growing industry.

>> going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible.

>> reporter: but so far, it's paying off for medicine man. a budding brand hoping to plant itself in a state near you.

>> the medicine man wants to be the name in the marijuana industry.

>> back at the green mile , this is one of nine grow and vegetation rooms in this building alone, there are hundreds of pounds of pot in this building both medical and recreational. and i've been covering this story for weeks and seen plenty of these rooms. i've got to tell you, this really is a lot of weed.

>> i know. we set up a bureau. haven't you heard that?